Right after we made the choice to switch our bulbs from incandescents to CFLs, a very opinionated friend of ours came by. "Ugh," he said, "I hate CFLs. The light they give off is so awful." We agree, but it seemed like there was no other choice. Be conscientious and live with awful light or ignore our responsibility to the environment in favor of our design aesthetic. We all confront these choices every day. So we jotted down some of our biggest challenges and the compromises we came up with.
- CFLs vs. Incandescents: Despite our friend's sneer, the savings in money and environmental impact makes this a no-brainer for us. And with all the varieties of CFLs and LEDs on the market, it's getting easier and easier to find ones that give off a light we like. Green compromise: switch out some of your bulbs.
- Lightbulbs, yes. Paper towels and napkins, no: Paper towels are so convenient and using the same towel over and over is just gross! Green compromise: We bought ourselves a few packages of bar wipes. With a stack under our sink, we can use them just like we did paper towels only now instead of being tossed in the garbage, they get tossed in the laundry. And yes, we keep a roll of recycled paper towels around for some really icky jobs.
- Blech tap water! I like my Pellegrino! I'm not a big water drinker so this was a toughie. I'd finally found a bottled water I'd actually drink when I realized I had to give it up. And, given a choice, I prefer my water with bubbles. Green compromise: an expensive water filter, lemons, limes and cucumbers to give my water a better taste, a gadget for making my own sparkling water (paid for by the money I've saved on not drinking bottled water) and a lot of pretty Sigg bottles filled and stashed in all the places I'd ever need them. And yes, occasionally buying bottled water.
- Tossing dirty containers in the recycling: Ugh! Dishwashing's bad enough but now I have to wash stuff I'm tossing as well? Gimme a break. Green compromise: Toss 'em in the dishwasher or fill them with soapy water leftover from washing your dishes and soak them overnight. Give 'em a good shake or swirl to get the worst of it off. They'll be clean enough.
- Some stuff is too hard to recycle and needs special attention: This one was hard. With limited storage space and limited time, it just seemed easier to toss some stuff in the trash when no one was looking. Green compromise: Our office banded together to collect stuff. Now, tossing electronics is as easy as remembering to bring them in. Old batteries go in our canvas tote for the next time we stop at Whole Foods or IKEA.
- Your home gets so hot in the summer and so cold in the winter that you have to leave the air conditioner or the heater on all day: We feel your pain on this one. Our house gets absolutely frigid even in the mild California winter and it's tempting to leave the heat on all day so it's nice and toasty when we get home. Green compromise: Turn the temperature up in the summer, down in the winter; put your air conditioner or heater on a timer so it turns on just before you get home or get up; try our cooling and heating tips.
[image from gomattolson's Flickr, with a Creative Commons License]